8/31 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW: Alt perspective report including pivot to Clash of Champions title matches, IIconics vs. Riott Squad with big stips, MVP Lounge with Lashley

By Nick Barbati, PWTorch contributor


SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...

BARBATI’S WWE RAW REPORT
AUGUST 31, 2020
ORLANDO, FLA. AT AMWAYCENTER
AIRED ON USA NETWORK

Announcers: Tom Phillips, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe


[HOUR ONE]

-The show started with an “In Memoriom” graphic for “Bullet” Bob Armstrong followed by the Then, Now, Forever and Raw opening.

-Tom Phillips welcomed us to the Thunderdome followed by Randy Orton’s entrance. The announcers then threw us to a recap of last week’s attack by Orton on Drew McIntyre and Keith Lee’s subsequent debut.

Phillips then said that tonight there will be three individuals matches leading to a triple threat match to determine the #1 contender for the WWE championship. The matches will be Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins, Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens, and Dolph ZIggler vs. Keith Lee.

Orton was in the ring with a microphone. He said the only thing Drew McIntyre deserves is to be in pain and sipping from a straw. He said you can ask Edge, Christian, Ric Flair, Big Show, Shawn Michaels and Drew McIntyre. Orton said he should not have to face anyone to have to earn a title match, but he will be Owens and win the triple threat to eventually beat McIntyre for the WWE Title if McIntyre can event make it to Clash of Champions. Orton said he heard McIntyre got together with other people that have in common being kicked in the skull by Orton. A graphic was then show on the aforementioned individuals all in hospital beds.

Keith Lee interrupted and slowly walked to the ring. Lee told Orton that he’s done well for himself and has been doing his best to forget about Payback and the fact that Lee beat him. Lee said that while Orton thinks the title match should be handed to him, Lee’s victory means that he should be the one that gets the shot at the WWE Championship. Lee said that McIntyre is his friend and he believes that at some point he will make good on his word. Dolph Ziggler then attacked Lee from behind. [c]

(1) DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. KEITH LEE

Match joined immediately after the commercial break. Lee began by overpowering Ziggler and lifting him over his head. Ziggler tried reversing but Lee slingshotted Ziggler hard into the turnbuckle and to the outside. Ziggler came back in the ring and gave Lee a neck breaker and off his feet. Ziggler put Lee is a cross face type maneuver into a chinlock. Ziggler splashed Lee into the corner but Lee returned into a shoulder tackle knocking Ziggler outside of the ring. [c]

We return with Lee and ZIggler in the corner exchanging shots. Lee regained control but Ziggler was able to reverse a carry and hit a Famouser. Ziggler put Lee in a sleeper but Lee reversed by slinging Ziggler off and knocked ZIggler to the ground with strikes. Lee threw Ziggler up in the air and then hit a rotating power slam on Ziggler. Ziggler reversed out of a charge by Lee and hit a Zig Zag for a two-count. Lee reversed a super kick attempt with a Spirit Bomb for the win.

WINNER: Lee via pinfall.

-The announcers recapped Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax’s Women’s Tag Team Championship win last night.

-Sarah Schrieber was backstage interviewing the Baszler and Jax. They debated how they were able to win the titles and who was responsible for the win. Asuka interrupted them and pushed Baszler out the way before yelling in Jax’s face. [c]

(Barbati’s Analysis: Lee feels so fresh compared to the stale acts that have been presented on Raw and Smackdown for months. Ziggler provided an excellent bumping foil for Lee, but ultimately this was all about presented Lee as a next big thing. Baszler and Jax also have huge shoes to fill in the screen time vacated by Sasha Banks and Bayley. They had become such a tremendous act worth looking forward to.)

-Backstage the security guards are given a pep talk about protecting from Retribution and were told that if they don’t they will be replaced.

-Charly Caruso introduced the Raw Women’s Champion Asuka. Charly asked Asuka who she feels is most deserving of a shot at the championship. Asuka said she has faced many great women, but it doesn’t matter who is ready for Asuka because Asuka is ready for anything. Mickie James then entered and said that as a six time Women’s champion she recognizes that Asuka is one of the greatest women’s champions of all time. She said Asuka should be one of the first to know she is coming for the championship. Lana and Natalya then entered. They called Mickie selfish and delusional and told James that she has failed to evolve. Asuka then said she is ready for all three. Lana and Natalya jumped Asuka and Mickie James, but Asuka and James sent Lana and Natalya out of the ring. [c]

-A promo for Conner’s Cure featuring Lance “The Tumornator” and other children impacted by pediatric cancer narrated the video.

-A recap of last week’s Hurt Business visit to Raw Underground was shown.

-Backstage Viking Raiders and Cedric Alexander were approached by Demi from “The Bachelor”. She gave Ivar a kiss on the cheek while Angel Garza looked on with a rose.

(2) LANA vs. MICKIE JAMES

Asuka joined commentary. Lana suplexed James and maintained control with a chinlock. James fought back but Lana stopped the momentum and slapped James in the face. James returned with a slap and Lou Thesz Press and clothesline’s. After some antics by Lana, James hit the Mick Kick for the pin.

WINNER: Mickie James via pinfall.

James looked on and pointed at Asuka.

-A recap of Alestar Black on the Kevin Owens Show was shown.

-Backstage Charly Caruso was interrupted by Randy Orton leaving Aleister Black’s dressing room. [c]

(Barbati’s Analysis: The impact of not having Bayley and Banks in the Raw Women’s Championship storyline is already being felt. Respectfully, James, Lana and Natalya feel like the B or C team coming in after an especially entertaining stretch of time that featured Asuka, Banks and Bayley, and this doesn’t feel like the start of something great.)

-The Riott Squad vs. the IIconics was announced for later in the show. The winning team will receive a women’s tag title shot and the losers will be disbanded.

-The IIconics were backstage talking about their formation and said they would not let some snot nosed hooligans destroy what they have built and their tag championship win will be iconic.

-Randy Orton entered the Thunderdome. Owens followed but was attacked by Aleister Black. Black gave Owens Black Mass and then tossed Owens in the ring. Owens struggled to his feet. The ref tried convincing Owens he could not compete but Orton attacked and hit an RKO.

(3) RANDY ORTON vs. KEVIN OWENS – Triple Threat Qualifier

The ref tried convincing Owens he could not compete but Orton attacked and hit an RKO for the win.

WINNER: Randy Orton via pinfall.

-Backstage Charly Caruso interviewed the Mysterio Family. Rey said he could not ask for more and that his loss is his son’s gain. If there is anyone on Earth Rey would like to see take his place, it’s Dominick. Dominick said he has a 619 with the name Monday Night Messiah written all over it. [c]

(Barbati’s Analysis: Eye for an Eye aside, the Mysterio-Messiah feud is one of my absolute favorites of the year. Dominick has really stepped into his role beautifully and smoothed out any cringe moments early in his runs.)
-A recap aired of Bobby Lashley’s United States Championship win at Payback.

-Shelton Benjamin and MVP were in the ring for the VIP Lounge, the first one live from the WWE Thunderdome. MVP introduced Bobby Lashley. MVP said he knows of a lot of young men who have made mistakes and Apollo is no different. He said there are three definite in life: death, taxes, and Bobby Lashley. Lashley said he did exactly what he said he was going to do. Lashley said he would get Apollo back and Benjamin said he will beat Apollo like a punk in Raw Underground. Cedric Alexander interrupted. MVP asked him if has had a change of heart. He was joined by an attacking Viking Raiders taking out the Hurt Business. Six-man tag team match next. [c]

(4) HURT BUSINESS vs. CEDRIC ALEXANDER & VIKING RAIDERS

Erik and Bobby Lashley started off before MVP quickly tagged in with strikes in the corner. Benjamin then tagged in and took control of Erik for a two count. Ivar tagged in and dominated Benjamin before tagging in Alexander. Quick tags as Raiders and Benjamin dominated Benjamin. MVP tagged in and fought off Alexander. Lashley tagged in and gave a suplex to Alexander before bringing Benjamin back in. The Hurt Business continued to overpower Alexander as a MVP had an arm bar but Alexander reversed a change for a roll up win.

WINNERS: Alexander & Viking Raiders via pinfall.

Hurt Business backed off and started to applaud Alexander as the announcers speculated that it is a sign of earned respect.

-Backstage Titus O’Neil warmed up for Raw Underground. [c]

(Barbati’s Analysis: The Hurt Business group is brining out the absolute best in the entire group. MVP seems to be rapidly reverse aging from where he was back in January, Benjamin seems more confident and less of a novel throwback act, and Lashley just seems tougher. This is proving to be a big win for all involved. Perhaps Cedric could be the next beneficiary either as a member of a foil. I vote for member.)

-Backstage Hurt Business attacked Cedric Alexander. Apollo Crews and Ricochet ran to his rescue as Hurt Business backed off.

-IIconics entered the Thunderdome set.

(5) IICONICS vs. RIOTT SQUAD – No. One Contender Match for Women’s Tag Titles

Ruby and Billie Kay started off the match before Royce quickly tagged in. Royce held Ruby in a sleeper and Ruby elbowed out. Liv Morgan tagged in and charged at Royce. IIconics reversed control. Billie hit a modified suplex on Morgan for a two-count. Morgan hit Kay with an enziguri. Quick pinfall reversal attempts by both teams but Ruby Riott finally reversed Billie Kay for a three count. The IIconics are no more.

WINNERS: Riott Squad via pinfall.

-The IIconics begged the referee to change the decision and acted distraught. Riott Squad celebrated up the ramp.

-Shane McMahon walked up to the Raw Underground door and talked to the body guard outside. [c]

-The announcers recapped the Mysterio/Rollins feud from Extreme Rules until last night’s tag team match.

-Rollins entered the ring with Murphy. Murphy handed Rollins the microphone. Rollins started to scold Murphy for hitting him in the head and costing them the match last night. Rollins kicked Murphy out of the ring and back until Murphy figures out what kind of man he wants to be. Rollins slapped Murphy. As Murphy went up the ramp, Dominick attacked him from behind and then he rushed Rollins in the ring.

(6) SETH ROLLINS vs. DOMINIK MYSTERIO – Triple Threat Qualifier

Dominick hit Rollins with a tilt-a-whirl arm drag. Rollins regained controls stomping Mysterio. More highflying from Mysterio including a near miss 619 and a senton off the announce desk onto Rollins. [c]

Match returns with Rollins giving Dominick an abdominal stretch and grounding him further with a waist lock. Mysterio elbowed out and reversed a buckle bomb attempt into a hurricanrana and a moonsault for a two-count. Mysterio took down Rollins with a top rope plancha to the floor. Back in the ring, Mysterio his Rollins with the 619, but missed a frogsplash. Rollins hit Dominick with a stomp for the three count.

WINNER: Rollins via pinfall.

The Mysterio family looked distraught backstage. Rollins hit a second Stomp on Dominick.

-Raw Underground is underway as Titus O’Neil was taking out opponents handily. Riddick Moss stood up to challenge O’Neil. Moss took O’Neil down and they brawled to the ground. O’Neil threw Moss to the outside and they continued to fight. They returned to the ring and Moss then knocked O’Neil out.

-Backstage The Street Profits prepare for the Tag Team Tornado match against Angel Garza and Andrade with Coach Dawkins’ Scouting Report on their opponents and Zelina Vega. [c]

(Barbati’s Analysis: This is the part of Raw where we return to Groundhog Day of the same matches week-in-week-out. That said, Dominick and Rollins really delivered in creating a compelling story that made Dominick look credible and Rollins despicable. Job well done.)

-The announcers shared a video from earlier in the day of Akira Tozawa and the Ninjas arriving. They were denied entry to the arena by an attendant which turned out to be a set up by R-Truth with the attendant being a referee. Truth pinned Tozawa to win the 24/7 title back.

– Raw Tag Team Champions Street Profits entered the Thunderdome.

(7) STREET PROFITS vs. ANDRADE & ANGEL GARZA (w/Zelina Vega & Demi Burnett) – Tag Team Tornado Match

Demi joined Garza as he entered the ringside area and then took a seat near the announce table. The teams started brawling at the same time in the ring. Dawkins was thrown outside and Ford fought off Andrade and Garza. Dawkins returned and hit a top rope double powerbomb on his opponents who suplexed Ford along with them. [c]

Action continues with Garza and Andrade in control throwing Ford shoulder first into the ring post. Garza put Dawkins in a camel clutch while Andrade hit him in the face with a drop kick. Dawkins reversed momentum and took control with splashes for a two-count. Garza put Dawkins in a tree-of-woe and Andrade hit him with double stomp. Ford returned to the ring and hit a blockbuster on Andrade. The lights began to heavily flicker. Garza escorted Demi from ringside. Retribution then appeared ringside and viciously attacked Andrade, Vega and Street Profits. They then ran backstage. [c]

-A recap of the Retribution attack prior to the commercial break.

-A fuming WWE official is scolding the security guards and telling them to return to their posts.

-Back to Raw Underground. Jessamyn Duke in action destroying her opponent. As another tries to control her Marina Shafir stepped in and quickly tapped her opponent out. Shafir and Duke celebrated. IIconics looked to step in but Royce threw Billie Kay into the ring and she was promptly knocked out by Duke.

-Recap of the Hurt Business-Cedric Alexander segments from earlier.

– Charly Caruso approached Ricochet, Crews and Alexander outside of the Raw Underground entrance. Crews said he’s not going to stop going after Lashley until he has the US Title back. Ricochet and Alexander say that what they have is stronger than any dollar amount and enter the doorway. [c]

(Barbati’s Analysis: Ricochet and/or Alexander joining Hurt Business would really be a nice twist, if a predictable one. I’m personally pulling for Ricochet as he has fallen so much further than where he should be and could use the rub being afforded Hurt Business right now. Raw Underground continues to somehow marry vicious fighting with a corny presentation. No payoff appears in sight, but at least it keeps the show moving along.)

Shane introduced the “main event”

(8) APOLLO CREWS vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN – Raw Undergound

Collar and elbow tie up and then a takedown by Benjamin. Crews went for an armlock but Benjamin powered them both to the floor where a big brawl broke loose with Hurt Business and Crews/Ricochet/Alexander. They spilled into the ring with Hurt Business taking them out.

WINNER: Benjamin by Shane McMahon stoppage?

(Barbati’s Analysis: This made no one outside of Hurt Business look good.)

-Backstage Garza and Demi were walking but Retribution came storming in. Garza abandoned Demi who was then stalked by Retribution.

-Orton entered the ringside area for the third time tonight for the triple threat match for the number one contendership for the WWE Championship. Lee followed and then Rollins.

(9) RANDY ORTON vs. KEITH LEE vs. SETH ROLLINS – Triple Threat Match to be Number One Contender for the WWE Championship

Rollins attempted to pair off with Orton but Orton bailed from the ring leaving Rollins and Lee. Rollins then left the ring to confront Orton about not working together. Lee pulled Rollins into the ring and charged him into the corner. Orton then jumped in and put Lee in a headlock. Rollins fought back on Lee who powered him into Orton. Lee got knocked outside but he leapt back into the ring on Rollins and Orton. [c]

Back in progress, Lee tried leaping in the ring again but was kicked by Rollins. Lee was driven into the announce desk. Orton and Rollins worked together to get Lee back in the ring. Orton turned on Rollins as he tried entering the ring. Orton hit Rollins with a middle rope DDT for a two count. Rollins countered and RKO with a Falcon Arrow for a two count of his own. As Rollins measured Orton for a stomp, Lee re-emerged and started to dominate Orton and Rollins with throws. Lee charged and pounced Orton outside. Rollins tried splashing Lee outside but was caught and thrown on the announce desk. Lee tried powerslamming Rollins but it was reversed for a roll up. Rollins hit Lee with a super kick but missed a stomp into a Spirit Bomb. Orton hit an RKO on Lee and pinned Rollins for the win.

WINNER: Orton via pinfall to become the Number One Contender for the WWE Championship at Clash of Champions.

[End of Show]

FINAL THOUGHTS: Where is the exact point when a show gets significantly better than it has been, but still not be especially good. Because that is the point we are all in. There are some especially strong elements to the show, namely the major storylines featuring Orton, McIntyre, Rollins, and Mysterio but for those plusses there are the negatives like the unnecessary bottoming out of the women’s division and the absolutely directionless approach to Raw Underground. The addition of Lee does give the show a jolt, but we’ve seen this before. What will be different about Lee’s run from all those that have come before him? Hopefully a lot. You don’t get the sense that Raw knows where it’s going but yet is somehow grounded in a comfortable place at the same time. A thumbs in the middle time if there ever was one.

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